Couple spending first weeks of married life at UNC Rex after impromptu wedding at hospital

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Harnett County couple who found themselves stuck at UNC Rex Women's Center the week of their wedding ended up tying the knot anyway.

Vicky Abarca and Jason Thedford, a specialist stationed at Fort Bragg, are expecting a baby boy in April, but complications with the pregnancy landed Abarca at UNC Rex one week before their planned wedding at Lake Johnson.

On Friday, a nursing staff determined to give the couple the day they had dreamed of, pulled off a small ceremony inside the hospital's chapel.

The event was complete with wedding cake, flowers, music, and even their hospital room was decorated to look like a honeymoon suite.

"People that we just met cared and they went above and beyond for us, it's an amazing feeling that I can't explain," said Abarca.

Megan Dunston, Labor and Delivery Manager, just so happened to be an ordained minister and officiated the ceremony. She will also likely be there for the baby's delivery.

"Coming at a time when there's so much sadness and confusion and chaos in health care right now, this was so special," Dunston said. "After two years of COVID, it was wonderful to have a joyful distraction."

Thedford said a few family members and friends attended in person. Others, including members from his unit at Fort Bragg, were able to join via Zoom.

"The one thing we want together is a marriage and for the hospital to take that initiative to pull that through for us, take our dream and give us the tools to make it, it was a phenomenal feeling," Thedford said. "It still feels unbelievable."

Because Abarca's pregnancy is considered high risk, the newlyweds are now spending the first few weeks of married life right there in their hospital room so staff can keep a close watch on mom and baby, who the couple plan to name Mateo.

Once little Mateo makes his safe arrival, the newlyweds plan to go through with a celebration of their nuptials at Lake Johnson, with a slightly bigger guest list.
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